Article Submitted by: Darren Firth
So, what is Anjou Velo Vintage ? and who is it aimed at? Well I guess where L'Eroica leans more towards the die-hard cyclist, Anjou Velo Vintage offers something for everyone, catering for all ages, tastes and fitness levels. Aside from the actual routes, they have 'The Village' which consists of a cycling fair, a flea market, various vintage clothing stalls and a full schedule of retro-style events taking you late into the evening - Making it a full-on weekend event, rather than just a day in the saddle.
Much like L'Eroica, the dress code is key here, whether it's a polka dot dress, gloves and heels or a 70's wool jersey, cap and leather shoes, the vintage theme is an integral part of the event's ethos. The general mood is lighthearted (in a good way) and the varied route lengths means that you can make your ride as easy or difficult as you like. For a more detailed look at the event and route distances available, please check out their website here.
We opted for the longest route, named 'La Rando' (The Ride) at 87KM. Cheered on by thousands of locals, the race starts at the Place du Chardonnet in the centre of Saumur. The route takes you to the southeast boundaries of Anjou, towards Montreuil-Bellay and Le Puy-Notre-Dame, before heading North to the famous shale hillsides of the Layon. What proceeds is a epic journey through the breathtaking Loire landscape, passing through fields, gravel tracks, historic caves, wine cellars, cathedral's and chateau's, before returning to the Place du Chardonnet - An excellent day of cycling, good wine, beautiful scenery and camaraderie.
The above photo's (mostly iPhone) encapsulate our entire trip, including the event, the race, the surrounding villages, our accommodation and the journey (plus stop-overs) to and from Saumur from the UK. If you have any specific questions, feel free to drop us an email.
Insider tips: ➊ — If you are driving to France from the UK: A / Make sure you have purchased the legal requirements before setting off. B / Don't skrimp on the bike rack. C / Look into your ferry tickets early - The amount of notice you give and the time you travel effects the final price. D / Consider purchasing a Sat Nav - The combination of the iPhone and printed directions just didn't cut it for us. E / Consider a nights stay around Normandy to break up the journey there and back. If you're travelling from anywhere North of London, it can become a long and exhausting day of driving. F / Make sure you have at least €60 to hand for the various toll roads en route. ➋ — If you don't speak any French, try learning some of the basics. ➌ — Book your accomodation early, everyone else is looking to stay in the same places. Alternatively, consider camping on the banks of the Loire or sharing a cottage in one of the surrounding (more scenic) villages ➍ — Stock up on nutrition, the wine is lovely, but it won't get you to the finish line. ➎ — You can buy a variety of vintage cycling paraphernalia at the event, so don't stress if you haven't completed your outfit before leaving. ➏ — Anjou Velo Vintage isn't as strict as L'Eroica regarding bike criteria, however if you are fully embracing the spirit of the event, you should be using a road bike built before 1973.
Vintage Cycling Event